Earning an MBA is long considered the go-to route for business professionals seeking leadership roles in their field. While that still holds true, MBA degrees aren’t as valuable as they once were. At the same time, degrees in specific areas of concentration are becoming more marketable, especially in highly specialized industries like accounting.

For many considering an MBA, a Master of Science in Accounting may be a better alternative. What is an MSA and is it right for you? Let’s consider the advantages and disadvantages of a Master of Science in Accounting vs an MBA.

About MBAs

An MBA has long been held as the gold-standard of business education. If you have prior business experience and want a broad-focused advanced business degree, an MBA has traditionally been the default choice.

What Is an MSA?

A Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) degree is more specialized than the wide-angle MBA. An MSA degree focuses on high level concepts, principles and analytics, grounding students in the theoretical and technical aspects of accountancy.

Some important key differences are:

  • An MSA provides a focused path to career advancement opportunities.
  • Specialized training in advanced theoretical accounting and business analytics enhances long-term degree marketability.
  • Students can earn an MSA is as little 16 months. An MBA takes up to two years.
  • Tuition costs of an MSA degree are typically much less than for an MBA.

If your career goal is eventual CPA licensure, an MSA degree is a quicker, more focused option than the MBA.

The Master of Science in Accounting Built for You

Too many degree programs are “one size fits all,” failing to meet the specific needs of individual students. Not at Merrimack College. The online Master of Science in Accounting program is flexible, customizable, and designed to meet students where they are. Whether you have an accounting degree, a business degree, or neither, Merrimack works one-on-one with you to build a program that meets your specific needs.

If You Have an Accounting Degree

If you’re an undergrad with an accounting degree, the 32 credit MSA curriculum is a great option. The program offers a wide range of electives to choose from and allows you to focus on higher-level accounting courses.

Prospective students work one-on-one with program administrators to personalize their degree path. This personal attention to your prior experience and education ensures your program doesn’t duplicate coursework you’ve already completed.

You also have an opportunity to a specialized concentration to your degree with options in Fraud & Forensics, Business Analytics, or Taxation. The specialized concentration provides an opportunity to add depth and dimension to your degree and to complement the skills learned in the accounting courses. You’ll come away with a degree that is highly marketable, and you will be ready to meet the long-term challenges and opportunities you will face in the accounting industry.

You can complete the degree program with an optional certificate 100 percent online in as little as 16 months.

If You Have A Business Degree

With many of the same options as accounting majors those with undergraduate business      management degrees complete a more focused curriculum in accounting, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of fundamental accounting principles to complement their business education.

Electives can be focused in the areas of Fraud & Forensics, Taxation, or Analytics. To complete a specialized concentration, additional coursework may be required.

Business undergraduate majors can still complete the MSA degree 100% online in as little as 16 months.

If You Don’t Have a Business or Accounting Degree

For students with neither a business or accounting degree, Merrimack’s customized curriculum concentrates heavily on core accounting courses, has fewer electives, requires 38 credits, and takes up to 24 months to complete.

Earning an MSA prepares accounting majors, business majors or non-business/non-accounting majors to sit for the CPA exam and apply for licensure. The Merrimack MSA meets the state board of accountancy requirements in Massachusetts, however, the team at Merrimack works with students to ensure coursework matches their state board requirements as defined by NASBA.

We do our best to decipher the state board of accounting requirements, however, it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure the curriculum plan mapped out meets the requirements of their state of interest.